bbrnfinal11.jpgTomorrow is a BIG day for Birmingham real estate. Why is that, you ask? Tomorrow is another BBRN tour or as we fondly call it: Last Tuesday Tour.
The BBRN is the Birmingham, Bloomfield Realtor Network. Back in November of 2006 I called upon 9 other top-producing Realtors in the area to collaborate on the market of and hosting of open houses. I selected each member of the group because I respected the way they handled their business. After a hugely successful open house in November, the BBRN was born.
Our mission with the BBRN is to increase exposure for each of our respective listings and breakdown the walls between competitors by sharing our ideas. The attention we are receiving from agents outside the group is simply amazing. Our open house events are drawing huge numbers of visitors, which in turn is leading to MORE HOMES SOLD!
Tomorrow’s event is Home is Where the Heart is. A gourmet lunch will be served at all 10 houses (so come hungry) and we’ll be open from 10am to 1pm.
I will be at my new listing at 1986 Fairway in Birmingham. So stop by and say “hello”.

Please come back to tomorrow to read all you need to know about your property taxes.

I’ve debated whether to post about this experience because frankly, I’m still licking my wounds. However, I thinking that “putting it out there” may be just what I need to let it go.

I’ll set the stage. A few weeks ago I received a call from a couple that was very anxious to get their house on the market immediately. The sellers were planning on a move to Florida and time was of the essence. Typically I like to take 2 meetings with a prospective customer prior to listing a house. This allows me to thoroughly inspect the property on the first visit. Then on the second visit, I present my analysis and my marketing plan. In between the first and second visits I’ll conduct a very in-depth analysis and prepare a comprehensive report. In this instance, I put in over 30 hours preparing for the 2nd meeting with the reports, the research, taking photos and such. Because it was such a pressing issue for the seller to get listed quickly, I had all the necessary marketing materials (brochure, mailer, ads for the paper) mocked up and ready to go.

Both meetings with the sellers went well. They raved about the report I had prepared. Couldn’t say enough about the brochure and mailer. All in all I thought everything was great. Not to mention, I had successfully marketed several homes within a block of this house. It seemed as if I had this one in the bag.

So after presenting all my findings, I was ready to ask for the business. It just felt very natural. So I asked “would you like to sign the listing papers I’ve prepared and put the sign in the ground”? At this point the wife turned to her husband and said, “you tell her”. Surprised, I asked, “Tell me what?” At that point, Mr. Seller said, my uncle is a Realtor in Sterling Heights and we planned to list with him. We knew you were an area expert so we wanted your opinion on the list price. Did I mention that I had asked them if they were interviewing any other Realtors during our pre-meeting phone call??? Well, I had asked and was told “NO”.

Of course I was gracious about the situation. I wished them all the best and suggested that they call me should they have any need for help. I ended the appointment and went on my merry way.

Was what this couple did to me wrong? No, they have the right to collect information. For me, there is always a risk of this happening. It’s the cost of doing business. After cooling off, which took me all of 15 minutes, I realized that the underlying problem is an ongoing one. The underlying problem is that the general public really has no idea how much “behind the scene” work goes into each appointment. Preparing documents, taking photos, compiling the comps and preparing a report take time. Yes, I could churn out a mindless report, or take my best guess at the price. However, I take pride in my work and like to have all my ducks in a row.

Yes, despite popular belief some Realtors have feelings.sad-face.jpg

Technorati worthIt’s true. Technorati has told me so. For those of you (ok us) out there that have no idea what Technorati is, it’s a website/tool that helps index blogs on the different search engines out there. Well, that’s what I think it is. All I know is that those who are “in the know” about all that “bloggy” stuff seem to like it. As you can see, I’m still learning… and its painful, very painful. Thank heavens I’m a MUCH better Realtor than writer or “techie”.

My pal Maureen Francis is one of those “in the know” types. She’s absolutely brilliant and her blog is wonderful. Not to mention, Technorati says it’s worth a ton of dough. Good for you Maureen.

Apparently a blog is worth more money when there are more back links and content. Again, I think.

I’m taking my “worthlessness” in stride. is new, and let’s face it; I’m still one of the only other agents in my market that even has a blog.

So as an incentive to you all out there in cyber land, come back and visit this blog on occasion to see if my worth has risen. There is a Technorati “worth tracker” in the right lower corner of the main page of the blog. Check it out… I’m worthless.

Recently I’ve been thinking about the Internet and how fascinating it really is. We live in such an “information now” society. Everything we want to know and need to know is right there at our fingertips…. LITERALLY!

In addition to the “need & want to know” stuff on the web, the biggest things that I see happening is people using the web as a major source of socialization. Maybe it’s entertainment?? This really fascinates me because I’m a very social person by nature. I love getting to know people. I’m inquisitive, and LOVE making new friends. I’d be a perfect person to really jump on that bandwagon. A few months ago, I would say that I was on that bandwagon…. Blogging away!

What I’ve struggled with is how one-dimensional the Internet feels to me. So I have to assume that to many of you out there, you feel the same. I find myself thinking about the people I interact with online as almost characters in a sitcom…. Well, sometimes a drama! I forget that these are people, with real lives that choose to share their experiences, thoughts and ideas on the web. They’re “putting it out there”. Make no mistake; I love the friends that I’ve made on the web.

Think about it. Your “cyber neighborhood” is made up of things that are of interest to you and the places you visit on the web. You can socialize with all sorts of sometime nameless, oftentimes faceless, people around the world. It started with chatrooms and now with the advent of web2.0 you can interact with almost anyone!

What is so interesting to me at this point is the lack of courtesy we pay people on the web. We think that if no one is looking, we can get away with all sorts of stuff. It’s true!

To me, it seems that many of our social graces go right out the window when we are online. People say mean things to one another. In the end, they end up hurting each other. That makes me sad.

I’m guilty of another type of poor Internet etiquette. I read people’s blogs and never remark. To me that’s almost as bad as not responding when someone say’s “hello”! I hate it when I look at my blog and see that no one has looked at it or taken the time to say “hello”.

I forget to stop by my friend’s blogs and let them know that I’m thinking of them… again, it’s as if I forgot to pick up the phone for a long time! I know better and I would NEVER act this way in the “real world”. I care too much about people to behave like that. So to those of you I have neglected, again, I’m sorry. I may never be a great blogger, but I can be a great friend!

The rules of engagement are changing. The way we socialize is changing. It’s exhausting… but if you want to participate in this new form of communication, you have to learn the rules and play by them. AND at the end of the day REALIZE that there are real live people out there looking for interaction. The responsibility falls on each of us to behave ourselves and act appropriately.

Hey! Maybe someday, I can become the Emily Post of the Internet.

Ok… There really wasn’t a house that sold for one dollar…. but it grabs your attention, right???

This makes me nuts! In the Birmingham/Bloomfield market, after a transaction closes, many sales get logged into the MLS with a sales price of $ONE DOLLAR$.

Maybe (if I think really hard) I can understand why some people would want this information kept privately. Maybe they didn’t get what they had hoped they’d get for their home. Maybe they have nosey neighbors. I guess the reasons could be limitless. However, you can go to the county office and look it up. IT IS PUBLIC INFORMATION!

In the beginning this practice became popular because the city assessor was very aggressive with property taxes. Or at least that’s what I’ve been told. People thought that if they tried to keep this information secret, their taxes would remain lower. It never works; eventually the system always catches up to you.

Our MLS has even attempted to implement a rule that any agent requesting a transaction to be listed as a dollar sale must also send over a copy of the warranty deed showing a dollar sale price. The problem is that they never issue fines to the people that fail to comply.

What the local realtor community unwittingly did was create much, much more work for themselves. Now every time I want to perform a CMA or market updates, I have to try to track down the agents who participated in the “dollar sale” and hope that they’ll share the sales price. I got wise about 3 years ago and started a dollar sales log. I try to update it as often as possible. This has made my life a bit easier…. But it’s still a pain in the butt.

What adds insult to injury is that even in this soft market, there are still some pretty impressive sales happening. In the recent past there were a few homes that would be considered “high watermark” sales. The majority of the market will never know this because the sales were recorded as…. You guessed it ONE DOLLAR!

I’m really starting to think we’re our own worst enemies!

It’s a dreary grey day here in the metro Detroit area. Winter has finally arrived and its cold & dreary. It’s the kind of day one would love to snuggle into their sofa with a good movie or book.

I think it’s a good day to sell a house.

How about a crash course in the basics? In the spirit of high-tech marketing and cyber advertising, basics are often overlooked. Here are a few things that I highly recommend that all sellers use on cold, grey days like today.

Yes, these tips will work even on a sunny day. However, when the weather is not so
nice, these tips will keep people in your home longer and evoke a very comforting feeling.

1) If you can, bake something. I tell my customers to go purchase a frozen apple pie, sprinkle extra cinnamon on the top and bake on a low heat all day. The aroma will linger all day. However, the pie will turn to mush.

2) Leave your lights on and light some candles, soft ambient light is quite soothing.

3) Play some very soft music. White noise can be comforting.

4) Lastly, if it’s cool enough, light a fire.

All these things will create a warm cozy atmosphere. Subconsciously it will welcome and comfort people. These things are so basic and obvious. However, we sometimes forget to do the basics. It sounds silly, but it has worked for me in the past.

Happy Selling to us all!

An Urban Real Estate Myth…. Revisited.

The most common question I’m asked, as a Realtor is, “Is it a buyers market or a sellers market?” It’s a fair question…. It’s predictable, but fair. What people are really asking me is how are the market conditions and am I selling any homes. People love to talk about Real Estate, and thank heavens, so do I.

I was at a party the other evening, talking real estate of course. On the way home I got thinking about a post I had written on another blog. The post was about An Urban Real Estate Myth and how some buyers have completely unrealistic expectations of the market.

Consider this…

There is the “sell high, buy low” guy. This is the person who can’t seem to wrap their mind around the idea of competitive pricing and smart buying.

There’s the “low baler”…this person wants to offer 25% less than asking price regardless of how accurately priced a property is.

But my personal favorite is the person who buys into the “Urban Real Estate Myth”. A term I coined after I’ve hear a few too many people tell me stories about their “friend’s friend” who got this great deal.

The truth is that only a VERY small segment of the homes on the market are priced far below market value; and the truth is the majority of these homes are in desperate need of an overhauling.

I’m not suggesting that people can’t make money flipping real estate. Many, many people are very successful with it. I’m just pointing out that the average homeowner, who pays a contractor for their home improvements, will ultimately end up having just as much invested in their home as their neighbors who paid a fair price for their homes. And the home that was improved by a “do it yourselfer” is typically easily identifiable.

The truth is a “great deal” is subjective.

Find a Realtor you can trust and listen to their professional advice.

Vacant homes are tough. Without furnishings, a home’s blemishes are so much more glaring. May I add that ALL homes have a blemish of some sort. Yes, it’s true! Although I believe in staging a home whenever possible, sometimes its just not possible. Maybe you’re moving out of state. Maybe there simply isn’t the money in the budget to afford staging….Whatever the reason may be.

Whenever I can, I’ve been known to stage a home or two with “goodies” from my own house. I have quite the “prop” closet at my house. It has come in very handy and has helped me secure many, many customers.

What do I do when I have run out of goodies? What about the vacant home?? I have a few tricks up my sleeve that I use when I have an unoccupied home.

1) Have the windows professionally cleaned. What a difference!

2) If necessary, have the house detailed. A clean home is a must.

3) Baby oil the stainless sinks. Makes them shine like new.

4) Fabric softener sheets on the furnace filters. Not over powering, pleasant.

5) Run the dishwashers ONCE with powdered lemonade mix. Great for old dishwashers. It smells nice and makes the dishwasher sparkle like new.

6) Put lights on timers. Homes show better with the lights on.

7) Put Polident (yes denture cleaner) tablets in all the toilets. No more yellow ring.

Obviously, these things wont necessary sell a home. However, these things will make a home shine.

As with most things in life, I think that the saying “everything in moderation” applies. There are always consequences for our actions. Too much playing means not enough working. Too much working means not enough playing and possibly… BURNOUT.

Well, I’m guilty of falling prey to this trap. At times, I spend so much of my time reading, learning and thinking about internet marketing, I fail to get “my basics” done. “My basics” are uniquely my own and have consistently garnered me business. These are the things that come naturally to me…. For instance, networking. I have recently passed on social events in an effort to read, work and research. Not good, not good at all.

I understand the importance of having a web presence. I have a limited knowledge of how I can make the Internet work for me. I now have a personal website and a personal blog. Both are a step in the right direction. Both are miles away from where I was a few months ago. But both are very challenging to me. These things are foreign to me and push me FAR out of my comfort zone.

However, socialization is my comfy place. Because I’m social, I sell homes, lots of homes!

I strive to give each customer a satisfying and rewarding transaction. I take great pride in the things I can offer a customer. These things include an unmatched marketing plan, consistent communication and service that will exceed high expectations. Tall order, yes, but I’m up for it!

My goal is to have a web presence AND continue to do what I do best. Finding a balance that works is tricky.

So I will kindly acknowledge that my new website and blog will never be as good as some other agent sites. I may never fully understand how to make the most of my online presence. However, I will try. I will try as long as I can keep my balance.

There is no agent out there that is capable of having it all. Everyone walks on his or her own tightrope. Those agents who can master the online experience may need some work on other skill sets. Recognizing that fact gives me comfort. Some of the best selling agents in my market have no idea what SEO even means, and they’re perfectly happy with that.

At the end of the day, there is enough business for us all. We just have to remember to stay on that tightrope and don’t look down!

Recently I heard the saying: Perfectionism leads to procrastination.

Think about that for a second. Take a minute if necessary.

For me the instant I heard that saying it was like the hot knife in the butter. Those words pierced my being. It was MY TRUTH. I think they call that the “A-ha” moment in therapy. You know what I’m talking about. The second that you hear something that sums up everything you’ve been unable to pinpoint for a long time. Ahh, now I can relax. I’ve correctly identified a driving factor in my personality. I can finally relax because the hard work is done!

Now that I’m armed with the knowledge that I procrastinate because I want things to be “just right” I have no excuse not to get going with some of my “scary goals”. That’s when it dawned on me… My work is just beginning.

Scary thing #1) Adventures in online marketing of my business. My business as a Realtor in the Birmingham Michigan area.

So without any further ado, I present you with my very first post on my very first blog.

I’m not nearly qualified to have a professional blog, because frankly, I’m a horrible writer. BUT, I know that my pursuit for perfection can no longer hold me back from my need to get out there and make myself seen and heard on the web. Be kind to me, I’m new at this.

I look forward to challenging myself with this endeavor. I may not be a good writer, but I’m a great Realtor, and I know my market very well. Did I mention that I’m also extremely humble? So I plan to write about what I know. I’ll do my best to bring you content and some humor.

Come along on this journey with me. At the very least, it may be worth the laugh.